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The issue of the paper is “Indigenous people sharing some unpleasant realities regarding their removal from the lands, physical attacks, denial of their organizational cultures and being treated as second-class citizens.”
Foundational aspects of Indigenous Australian cultures (the Dreaming & economic organization)
The dreaming consists of an overview of the world which structures many of the indigenous cultures and indigenous Australians with a sense of reality which is a framework for understanding and interpreting the culture of indigenous people. The ‘Dreaming ‘is a belief of the aboriginal people that they have been in Australia since the beginning. It is believed that during a particular period some of the ancestral spirits came to earth and started walking on the land. It was then they were created on the land and it also shaped the land formations, forests, deserts, mountains and rivers.
These were created due to the hunting, traveling and fighting of the ancestors. It also created all the humans, animals, vegetation which formed a part of the land and the type of life to be followed by the successors. It was the ancestors who bestowed the customs, code of conduct, sources of songs, designs, languages, rituals and basics of the religion of the indigenous people(Liberman, 2017).
The land is considered as the Mother or Life-Giver for the indigenous people. It is perceived as an economic asset or possession for them. So, the indigenous people demonstrate the diversity in culture, socioeconomic organization and religion both in the historic and current scenario. The indigenous people argue that it is a state of birth and mind, so they retain their connection with their traditional land on which they reside.
The Aboriginal Australians perceive their traditional lands as Country and it is central to their identity. They relate their family to the country and acceptance by others is often rely on being capable of identifying as their ancestral lands. They view their lands as the central aspect of recognition for them and invading and occupying their land amount to a physical loss of territory and sovereignty. It would disrupt their language, social structures and beliefs which form the basis of their culture (Muswellbrook shire council, 2017). The influence of historical colonization practices, policies and legislation relating to Indigenous Australian peoples
The history of aboriginal people had the following phases :
The 60,000+years before Europeans arrived
The initial invasion and colonization from 1788-1890
The protection and segregation from 1890-1950
Assimilation from 1940-1960
The self-determination, self-management and integration from the time period of 1967-1990
Reconciliation from 1991-2000
The experience of aboriginal people with living in the Australian society with their historical legacy has a crucial impact on their lives. The impact may pertain to the emotional effect on the experiences of the Aboriginal people and their families. The barriers to gaining living skills i.e. of being separated from their families. It also leads to a lack of trust of institutions.
The policies and legislation related to aboriginal people pertain to The Aborigines Act 1969 was established with an intention to provide for the safeguarding and care of aborigines. It was the first act which was passed to deal with the aboriginal people in New South Wales. It specifically contained provisions for children comprising of the right of Protection Board in removing the youth from Aboriginal Reserves and placing them into service(Lewis, 2012).
The NSW Land Rights Act 1983 is another legislation which is formulated to safeguard the interest of aboriginal people regarding their dispossession from the land. It is also acknowledged in the preamble of the Act which illustrates that the land in New South Wales was occupied and owned by the aboriginals and it is of social, economic, cultural, spirituals importance to them. It has been specifically passed to acknowledge the importance of the land for aboriginals and their need for the land.
It has further been accepted that as a result of the past decisions of the government pertaining to the amount of land which is set aside for the aboriginals have been diminished without giving any compensations. Additionally , the Native Title Amendment Act 1998(Cth) which is also referred to as 10 point plan is a native title law created by the Liberal Government led by John Howard. It was in response to the Wik Decision by the High Court of Australia in 1996(Maddison, 2013).
It pertains to the issuance of exclusive rights of leases over the land and the confirmation that the pastoralists can carry their activities allowed by the lease even though it had an impact on the native title. It confirmed the existing rights for indigenous people only until when their native title claims can be heard.
The links between past and present Indigenous socio-economic disadvantage
It has been analyzed that the indigenous population has been experiencing several socioeconomic disadvantages from birth to death as compared to the non-indigenous population. The aboriginal population has been downgraded in many ways. They have been facing dispossession of land, prejudice in their routine life, displacement of the population and their discrimination have resulted in their overall degradation.
In the past, the federation of 1901 has led to a legal ratification of control over the aboriginals through imposing punitive and restrictive legislation such as Western Australian Aborigines Act 1905 which paved the way to remove the children and internment of adults. They were not even included in the national census till 1971. The origination of various act such as Native Title Amendment Act 1998(Cth) , The NSW Land Rights Act 1983 and The Aborigines Act 1969 has led to the development of the aborigines (Gilbert, 2016).
But at present the limited success of the policies and legislation passed by the government has resulted in a multi-faceted problem necessitates the evaluation of such policies which are aligned with the major building blocks of the society. They comprise of the life expectancy and child mortality, children numeracy, reading and writing skills and attaining the secondary education and care their employment outcomes (Kapuscinski, 2013).
The responsibility of the business to execute its operations which does not threaten the sustainability and how it should respect the aboriginal people’s relationship to the land
As per MacInnes, Colchester & Whitmore (2017), the invasions on the land of the aboriginal people occurred opposite to the early agreed principles of global law which states that the native people are bestowed with the same rights as other people. Their lands should not be occupied without their consent. It has been mentioned earlier that the aboriginal people have their inherent rights over the land and they are entitled to manage it in their own way.
Since 1970 they have been active in instating for their own rights which are being equal to other people and to self-determination – to manage and regulate their own land and resources which pertain to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent ‘(FPIC). In this context, the business involved is the natural resource extradition like metals, oil and minerals and its associated processes. These have been resistant in acknowledging these rights(Hanna & Vanclay, 2013).
Another aspect of sustainability of the business in the context of aboriginal people is the safeguarding the biological diversity of these people. Biological diversity implies to all the types of forms of life such as plants, animals and microorganisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystem of which they form a part. It has been perceived that the biological diversity of the aboriginal people is posed to the threat of loss because of industrialization and urbanization, activities related to land clearances, agriculture and farming.
The biological diversity is of social and economic value for the indigenous people. They seek the identity and protection of their rights in knowledge and practice which is associated with the conservation, management and use of the biological diversity. They seek the introduction of the measures so that their knowledge is not exploited and they would be compensated for the use of their knowledge, innovations and practice(Thornberry, 2013).
So, it can be said that the businesses particularly involved in mining shall implement the precautionary approach to safeguard the indigenous people and the ecosystem which supports them. The mining should not take place without their permission and participation in their self-defined indigenous evolution. Since empowerment is initiated with tolerance and passion so the sustainable development must not let the existence of aboriginal people diminishes rather it should attempt to improve their lives and enhance the value of their cultures . Their sovereignty should be respected and empowered. Their access and authority over the land and nature should be protected(Howitt, Havnen & Veland,2012).
What are the implications for the company and it’s CSR that ensures environmental sustainability and respects towards Indigenous Australian peoples?. There are certain recommendations which should be suggested to the businesses so that they can ensure environmental sustainability and respect towards the aboriginal people of Australia:
It is important to align the interests of the indigenous and non-indigenous stakeholders.
The desired results of the encounter for indigenous people originate from their logical and prior informed assent and participation.
Upon the identification of the risks associated with loss of land and the resulting economic, social and environmental impacts should be mitigated by institutional and financial arrangements provided for the same.
The provisions for benefit sharing arrangements should be organized which are beyond the step for compensation of damages.
The aboriginal people should have the right to accept, alter, and discard the decisions which affect their lives, culture and resources.
Their basic human and civil rights should be safeguarded and must be specified in the international conventions as well.
Lastly, the focus should be on safeguarding their wealth, their social relationships in particular which guide the sustainable utilization of their natural resources.
1. Gilbert, J. (2016). Indigenous Peoples' Land Rights under International Law. Brill.
2. Hanna, P. & Vanclay, F. (2013). Human rights, Indigenous peoples and the concept of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 31(2), 146-157.
3. Howitt, R., Havnen, O. & Veland, S. (2012). Natural and unnatural disasters: Responding with respect for indigenous rights and knowledges. Geographical Research, 50(1), 47-59.
4. Kapuscinski , C.A.(2013) . Indigenous disadvantage in an historical perspective: the evidence of the last thirty years. Retrieved September 26th , 2018 from https://www.murdoch.edu.au/School-of-Business-and-Governance/_document/Australian-Conference-of-Economists/Indigenous-disadvantage-in-an-historical-perspective.pdf
5. Lewis, C.(2012) .Corporate responsibility to respect the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples.
6. Liberman, K. B. (2017). Routledge Revivals: Understanding Interaction in Central Australia (1985): An Ethnomethodological Study of Australian Aboriginal People. NY: Routledge.1-342.
7. MacInnes, A., Colchester, M. & Whitmore, A.(2017) .Free, prior and informed consent: how to rectify the devastating consequences of harmful mining for indigenous peoples’. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, 15(2017), 152–160.
8. Maddison, S. (2013). Indigenous identity,’ authenticity’ and the structural violence of settler colonialism. Identities, 20(3), 288-303.\